Selasa, 02 September 2008
THE GOTHIC JESUS
The Gothic Jesus
"Even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You." Psalm 139:12
I find it ironic and even somewhat humorous that while many Christians eagerly throw around the popular cliche, "What Would Jesus Do?" they are also the ones who so readily condemn their Gothic brothers and sisters. Why are Goths such common targets?
The answer is the same reason Communism has been able to brainwash billions. If you feed people lies consistently for long enough, they will start to believe them, no matter how ridiculous they know it is. If one keeps telling one's self that the color black is evil, that introverts, poets, intellectuals, etc. are "strange," and that Christians have to be smiley fluffy bunnies all the time, then that's what you'll end up believing.
But the ironic and humorous part of this situation is that Christ, the Head of the Christians who so easily cast judgment, possesses many of the same qualities that Goths are condemned for displaying.
Jesus a goth?
Let me clarify something before we proceed any further into this discussion. The point of this article is not to declare that Jesus is a Goth or that the Gothic mindset is the only right mindset just because Jesus presented a few Gothic qualities. The point of this article is to demonstrate that there is nothing sinful about the way a Christian Goth thinks or acts, since Jesus Christ Himself showed Gothic qualities once in a while.
I apologize in advance if this article offends anyone. I do not intend to belittle or exclude any other believer. I simply wish to put an end to the discrimination that goes on against other saints who think differently than the majority of Christians.
But let us turn our attention back to Christ, the author of our faith. "What kind of Gothic qualities did He display," you ask?
Jesus, the reject
Just as Goths are today rejected by their society, so Jesus was a social outcast as well. There was no place for Him in the culture of the day.
Not many people wanted to accept or love Christ, no matter how "popular" He seemed from the stories we heard in Sunday School. The Bible says that Christ was not handsome at all (Isaiah 53:2). Not only that, but Christ was one of the lowest on the social ladder... He was born in a barn to an unwed peasant woman. Imagine the shame He and Mary must have endured when the neighbors found out that Jesus was an "illegitimate" child (of course, He wasn't, but it must have seemed that way). To add to it all, Jesus was a Nazarene, raised in the city of Nazareth. Nazareth was a military town, and known for its rough crudeness--its drunkards and prostitutes and sinners. Nathanael expressed this sentiment in John 1:46 when he exclaimed "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?"
However, most importantly, Jesus was a social outcast because of the way He thought and reasoned. The same reason why Goths are generally outcasts of society.
Christ introduced ideas to His people that did not fit into the box they had created for themselves. The ideas in His Beatitudes, such as anger being just as bad as murder, lust being just as bad as adultery, His calls to self-sacrifice, loving enemies, and doing your good deeds in secret, were so revolutionary that people didn't know what to do with Him. Christ directly contradicted the religious authorities, preaching that having faith in God was more important than following the Jewish Law (Matt 9:13-14), thereby isolating himself from the established religion of the nation. He also taught that a believer's true family is the family of other disciples (Matthew 12:46-50), so being isolated from His own mother and siblings. And then He claimed to be the Messiah, the Son of God, and even God Himself (Jn 8:58, 10:33, Matt 16:16-18) setting Himself up for the ultimate rejection from all mankind. Christ was ostracized by about every facet of society that existed.
Strange and shocking
Another quality that most people usually associate with Goths is that they are "strange" and "shocking" in their thoughts and behavior. However, Gothic Christians also share these qualities with Jesus Himself. There existed friction between the accepted norms of the day and the teachings of our Lord. The things He preached directly challenged the authorities and the stereotypes that people had set up, and were considered radical.
Yes, we are to submit to the established authority and follow their laws (insofar as they do not go against God's laws), but that does not mean the popular ideologies put forth by our government and our rulers should be blindly accepted without question. In fact, the Bible encourages us to challenge our leaders and see if what they say is in line with what God says. The Bereans were called "noble" for questioning Paul's doctrines and seeing if what he said was actually true (Acts 17:11).
Jesus did this as well, challenging the religious authorities. There was always tension between our Master and the Pharisees, as the teachers of the law would constantly accuse and condemn Jesus of something, and then Christ would turn around and examine their beliefs in light of the Scriptures (Matthew 9:14; 9:34; 12:2; 23). Jesus even vehemently rebuked the authorities on occasion! So you see, the Goth is more similar to Christ than it appears at first glance.
And just as Christian Goths, by their diversity, are constantly challenging stereotypes (false expectations that society places on an entire group of people of how those people will think/act), so Jesus challenged the stereotypes that plagued the people of His lifetime. There are false notions that all Goths are druggies, promiscuous, addicted to RPG's, or suicidal, when that is really not the case.
Likewise, by Christ's very nature, He is a challenge to stereotypes. First of all, the fact that He was a Nazarene, as stated before, was mind-boggling. Nazarenes were known to tough, crude, thieving trouble-makers. Yet, this man was so harmless that He would not break even a bruised reed or snuff out a smoldering wick (Isaiah 42:3).
Also, the Jews back then had a strong sense of supremacy over other peoples, since God had chosen them as His people. Gentiles (non-Jews) were usually discriminated against and thought of as unclean or lesser persons. But Jesus, displaying His acceptance for all mankind regardless of race, declared that it was a Gentile who had the greatest faith in all of Israel (Matthew 8:5-13). He also praised a Canaanite woman's faith (Matthew 15:22,28) while lamenting over the Jews' lack thereof. Jesus even used a Samaritan, one of the Jews' greatest rivals, as the hero in one of His parables (Luke 10:30-37).
And while even Christ's disciples wanted to shoo children away, Christ asked them to let the little children come to Him. In fact, He declared that the children are the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:2-3,10), as opposed to the common stereotype that children were obnoxious or unimportant.
Another one of the big stereotypes haunting the society of ancient Israel was the notion that the more wealth you had, the better your standing with God was. The Pharisees and religious leaders were some of the wealthiest figures in that culture, and they were the most 'religious' as well. So when Christ declared to the contrary, that money and possessions actually inhibit a good standing with God (Matthew 19:24), many of His followers were at a loss. It was a complete paradigm shift.
So you see, just as Christian Goths are known for constantly outstepping stereotypes, so was Christ. And He was hated just as much then as Goths are today.
Finally, Jesus was also a radical, whether we like to accept it or not. His teachings were quite extreme. He taught that only a few will enter the Kingdom of God, and that the path of righteousness is narrow (Matthew 7:13-14), that in the Kingdom, the least will be the greatest and the greatest will be the least (Luke 9:48), and that the Kingdom of Heaven is actually near (Matthew 4:17).
Again, Jesus was a radical in that He was so zealous for God. He drove the thieves and swindlers out of the temple with a whip (John 2:15) and publically rebuked the pillars of society (Matthew 23). The Bible even says that His zeal "consumed" Him (Psalm 69:9). If that is not radical, I do not know what is.
Another quality that can be associated with Christian Goths is that they are in touch with reality. They are not afraid to look at how things really are, no matter how painful or disturbing that reality might be. They would rather be hurt by the truth than be entertained by a lie.
Jesus tore down peoples' masks and saw their hearts, their most inner motives. He was in no way naive as to what people thought of Him. Passages like Luke 2:35, Matthew 9:4, Mark 2:8, Luke 5:22, and Matthew 23:27 attest to this.
And Jesus wasn't afraid to tell it like it is. He didn't sugar coat His message or water it down. He saw reality for what it was and told the truth, even when the truth wasn't pretty. In Matthew 23:27, He saw right through the Pharisees' religious charade, exposing their true motives. He aptly called them white washed tombs--they look nice on the outside, but inside are only full of death and decay. In John 6:60-61, even the disciples began to grumble against Christ's offensive preaching. "On hearing [Christ's teaching], many of His disciples said, 'This is hard teaching. Who can accept it?' Aware that His disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, 'Does this offend you?. . . The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.'" Jesus was not just a cozy little bearded man who gave hugs and talked about "love" all the time. Much of his teaching was harsh, but at least it was in touch with the real world.
The artistic Christ
Goths are known for their love of literature, poetry, artwork, music, and the like. And Christ was an artist and a poet as well. His eloquent parables were the epitomy of perfect speaking and literature. Who else could craft such serious and meaningful messages so artistically in such a way that only true wisdom could discern their meanings?
And just as Goths are known for their love of classic writers such as Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and the like, so Christ was able to read and understand the classic literature of His day (the Jewish scriptures) better than anyone else. He was able to appreciate the message and the poetry of the Word of God without reading the Spark Notes.
Though the term "tolerance" is misused a lot in today's Western culture as accepting everyone else's viewpoints as being true without question, the phrase can still be used to refer to the tolerance of natural differences in other people. Christ tolerated and accepted the untouchables of the earth.
The situation of 2000 years ago was a highly patriarchal culture. Men were valued over women, a female's testimony in court was worth only half that of a male's, and sometimes, men were not even allowed to associate with certain women.
However, Jesus Christ accepted the sinner woman who came to see Him while having dinner at a Pharisee's house, while the Pharisee considered himself too high and mighty to be near to the repentant woman (Luke 7:38-39,50). He interacted with the Samaritan woman, who being not only a female, was also a Gentile (John 4:9). This was one of the biggest taboos that He could have crossed.
Jesus saw no difference between the spiritual worth of a man and woman, or between a Jew and Gentile. In fact, the Son of God chose to live among Gentiles (Matthew 4:13) and even praised the faith of the Gentiles who trusted in God (Matthew 5:24-28).
Jesus hung around with people whom society considered unacceptable. He went personally to the sick, the demon-possessed, the prostitutes, sinners, and tax-collectors (Matthew 8:1-4, 14-17, 28-34, 9:1-7, 10-13; Luke 15:1).
Not afraid of the dark
Jesus Christ was also, for lack of a better phrase, "not afraid of the dark." He did not shrink from death, darkness, or the unknown, and He even chose quite morbid illustrations to get across His points. He did not chicken out when the time came for Him to descend from His heavenly paradise to the hellish earthly realms. He gave up His comfort, faced persecution, torture, and death on a cross--the most excruciatingly painful form of execution ever invented by mankind.
In His speech, Christ often utilized disturbing illustrations to explain His messages. In Matthew 18:8-9, Christ commanded that if your eye causes you to sin, you are to gouge it out, and if your hand causes you to sin, you are to chop it off (Matthew 18:8-9).
The images portrayed in His parables were very morbid at times. He compared a hypocrite who condemns his brother for a small sin while having even more sin himself with one who has a plank of wood run through his eye socket (Luke 6:41).
At the last supper, Jesus bid His disciples to see the bread He broke as His crushed body, and the wine He drank as His spilled blood (Matthew 14:22-24).
It was not uncommon for Jesus' sermons to talk about gruesome details (Matthew 22:13; 24:9,28, Mark 9:48, etc.)
Just because a thought is "disturbing" does not mean it is evil. Christ's mindset shared a lot in common with the modern-day Goth's. We should not be so quick to condemn the Gothic subculture as being contrary to Christ and scriptural teaching, when in fact, it is very much in line with the truth.
The real me
Finally, Goths are like Jesus in that Christ based His opinions of people on who they were, not on how they looked or appeared.
While many churches would call the police on a dirty, scraggly homeless person or a hardcore metal Goth if they were to walk into the sanctuary during the Sunday service, Christ looked at people for who they truly were. He saw that many of those who were dressed in the finest clothes and who were the cleanest on the outside, were actually the most corrupt on the inside. And He saw that many of those who were considered the lowest scum of the earth, were actually some of the most righteous people on the inside.
The story of the rich man and the beggar in Luke 16:19-23 is a perfect example of this. Jesus could see that the luxurious man dressed in fine linen was actually one of the worst people, as opposed to the dirty beggar whose sores were licked by dogs.
While most would be irritated by a mass of people following them around, Christ looked on the masses that followed Him as a flock of sheep in need of a shepherd (Matthew 9:36).
In His parables, Christ honored the repentant publican. To Him, the humbled sinner who turned from His ways was a better person than the righteous man who looked down on everyone else (Luke 18:9-14).
Christ, without drawing judgments on people He didn't truly know, accepted and loved the prostitute who repented and yet was rejected by everyone else (Luke 7:38-39,50) and the repentant thief on the cross (Luke 23:40-43).
In like manner, Christian Goths are known for their accepting personalities. Gothic Christians are the modern social equivalents of Christ, who "eat with sinners." We do not shun those that society shuns. We do not accept rumors or hearsay. We base our opinions of people on what we know about them personally. Christ was very Gothic in this respect.
So the point of this article is to show that perhaps, before we begin condemning others, we should examine what we really have against that person and ask ourself, "What does the Bible say about this?"
Instead of being so quick to judge other Christians, let us be a little more open-minded and see if their lifestyle holds up to the scrutiny of God's Word.
If, after a thorough and sincerely open examination of Gothicism, you still find Christian Goths as "heretical," "backslidden," or not worthy of fellowship, then that will be your own opinion, and God will be our Judge. However, I hope that after reading the scripture verses I have outlined in this article, you will believe otherwise.
There is nothing wrong with the mindset or attitude of a Christian Goth, and Christ Himself has given support to this by His own lifestyle. Therefore, we, as Christians, should definitely be more respectful and acceptant of those who claim to be Christian Goths, since, as Christ stated, the family of God is our true family.
Once again, I am sorry if I have offended anyone. I only ask that you take this into consideration in the future.
Love in the blood of Christ,